Republican candidate for Governor, Attorney General Rob McKenna, makes one last attempt to make an impression on UWT students who had not made it to the polls. His active stance on returning money for higher education to the state budget and investing in charter schools filled the room with glossy eyed students who listened intently to his well spoken presentation.
McKenna praised branch campuses for their ability to provide degrees at half the cost and for their accessibility to students. His financial plan to expand the effects of branch campuses in Washington would entail restoring finances to an education budget that has been “cut by half within the last two years.” Students have picked up this financial burden, providing 75% of the cost of tuition that, in recent years, was the amount funded by Washington State. A climate where the state pays for 25% of the cost for students to attend classes is not an environment that allows growth.
McKenna used World War Two as an example to show the benefit of making higher education available to more people. He explains that community colleges and technical schools have supplied the work force with increasing numbers of skilled employees. Skilled workers are needed in order to transform unemployment by filling vacant fields that lack trained man-power; such as engineering.
“All of that is in Jeopardy because of policies in Olympia in the last two decades, especially in the last eight years, where higher education has been driven down.”
He holds Washington State budget shifts accountable for the flip in higher education costs.
“This is not so much a problem with costs by the way. The fact is the UW and WSU have kept the costs of higher education pretty flat for 10 years.”
He demands that restoring funding for education be made a priority by the administration.
“You often hear about deficits in Olympia, but what they never seem to point out is that their own projections of revenue coming into the state from the growth of the economy will be about $11.3 billion over the next 8 years.”
The captivated room became disenchanted after topics shifted from higher education to issues such as Referendum 74 and Initiatve 502. When asked where he stands on marriage-equality, McKenna states:
“Well, what was on the ballot in 2010 along the same lines? Referendum 71 right? I voted for it, I think it’s the right law and back then everyone was told you gotta vote for this to be fair; I voted for it. I like the idea of same sex couples, invested partners, having the same legal rights as married couples; and I still think it’s a good law. Uh, I’m not voting for Referendum 74 because my religious faith teaches me, as one voter, that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Election night came and went ending with Democrat Jay Inslee winning his seat as Governor of Washington. Voter’s priorities were made clear when a governor was elected who had views closely reflecting measures on the 2012 ballot.